Validating a Foreign Court Decision in Greece

by Christos Iliopoulos, Esq.
Attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece
Master of Laws, International and European Law



In our times individuals and families are involved with more than one country more often than ever. Travelling is easier and usually less expensive than before. Apart from the immigration waves of the past decades, which created large communities of ex-patriates living in a foreign country, today relocation from one country to another, due to professional, financial or even political reasons, are the result of the globalization, which makes the world an interconnected community.

Such developments have created the need for increasingly more people to validate a court decision issued in one country, in the legal order of another. Greeks living in other countries very often have to enforce or simply register in Greece a foreign court decision, ruling or order. The areas of law where this happens more often is family law (divorce, child custody and visitation rulings), as well as business law, where one party who obtained a favorable court ruling seeks to collect from the adversary by implementing that foreign ruling in Greece, where the adversary appears to have assets.

Once such a court decision or ruling is issued by the competent court or tribunal of the foreign country, the decision can be incorporated into the Greek legal order, in such a way that it will have legal validity and recognition in Greece as if it was issued by a Greek court.

The foreign decision must be absolute or final. This means that the time limits for filing an appeal, or petition for review, or any other type of challenge of the decision of the court of first instance, must have expired, or the decision must have been issued by a court of appeals. In other words, the decision must not be subject to legal review or challenge and/or must be directly applicable in the country where it was issued.

The Greek court will require written proof that the decision issued by the foreign court is final or absolute. Such proof could be a mention in the body of the decision itself, that it is final, or absolute, or that the time limits for appeal or review or challenge have expired and that no appeal or challenge has been filed against it, or any text of similar meaning.

However, proof that the decision is final or absolute could also be provided in the form of a separate letter or certificate, issued by the court which issued the decision in question, signed either by a judge or a secretary of that court. If the proof that the decision is final is provided with a separate document, this document must also have the Apostille stamp, just like the main court decision.

This final or absolute court decision must be filed before the Greek court officially certified as an original or true copy of the decision, with the stamp of Apostille, (Convention of the Hague of 5 Oct. 1961), if the foreign country is a member of that Convention, otherwise the decision must be certified by the local Consulate of Greece.

The main substantial requirement for the foreign court decision to be recognized as valid in Greece is that the procedure under which the decision was issued, as well as its content, do not violate the basic rules of the Greek public order, regarding the safeguarding of the rights of both parties for a just hearing, (audio alteram partem etc.), that the rule of law is observed, that the fundamental human rights have been protected and that the basic rules of the Greek legal order (jus cogens) have not been violated.

Also, the foreign court decision must be as detailed as possible. A simple court certificate describing the main aspects of the case and its outcome normally will not be accepted as a proper court decision. The original / certified foreign ruling must have the form of a detailed court decision, stating the court, the parties, the procedure, the facts, the considerations and justifications of the court and finally, what the court orders.

Once the foreign ruling is recognized by the Greek court, any certified copy of it will be considered as an official court decision, which can be enforced according to the rules of the Greek legal order.



(Posting date 05 December 2015)

Christos Iliopoulos is an attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece, LL.M., in Athens, Greece, specializing in International and European Business Law. For more information about him, see his brief biographical sketch under the HCS section for Contributing Authors at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/christosiliopoulosbio.html. He has submitted many articles to HCS; readers can browse these in the archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/archiveiliopoulos.html or visit his webpages at the URL http://www.greekadvocate.eu. He can be contacted by e-mail at bm-bioxoi@otenet.gr or ktimatologiolaw@yahoo.gr or by phone (from the US) 011-30-210-6400282; mobile 011-30-693-2775920, fax 011-30-210-6400282, skype: christos.iliopoulos100 or by postal mail at the address: 105 Alexandras Ave., Athens, 11475, HELLAS

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